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Judge Rules Yucca Mountain Must Move Forward with Licensing

U.S. Department of Energy

Washington’s state attorney is praising an appeals court decision on a nuclear waste repository in Nevada. The ruling requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to get the licensing process back on track for Yucca Mountain.

The state of Washington wants Yucca Mountain to be the permanent waste repository for radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. But President Barack Obama buried the project because of opposition from Nevada’s political leaders. Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has to continue forward with the licensing of the facility. 

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson says there is no timetable for a final decision on Yucca Mountain, but the court’s ruling “puts it back on track.”

“That doesn’t mean that Yucca Mountain will be the repository for our nuclear waste here at Hanford, but it puts that process back on track, a fair process on whether it is the right spot,” Ferguson said.

Even if the decision revives the relicensing process, it’s unclear whether the Obama administration has plans to complete the project. And the repository still faces opposition from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.